Last night’s election results are both unexpected (nationally) and expected (locally), I’d say. Few thought that Trump would win the presidency, but many of the other results for Wisconsin or Whitewater were easier to predict.
Trump’s victory nationally will be the big topic for years, first about its cause and then about its effects. Because I believe that national shapes local (and that purely hyper-local assessments are short-sighted), Trump’s win (coupled with a Republican Congress and a conservative Supreme Court) will transform this city as it will much larger places.
The local results were unsurprising. There are no data like election data, and locally the results from Whitewater’s school construction referendum belie the notion that this was ever going to be a close vote. A favorable local turnout was almost certain to support the referendum, by a large majority. This was a (1) November general election (2) in a presidential year (3) where the last referendum won (4) even in a gubernatorial year.
Honest to goodness, there was no reason to pay for a survey company (School Perceptions) whose results were uncertain when anyone who has lived in this town for more than two hours, twenty-seven minutes, four seconds would have known as much. It tells a lot that the survey’s author, Bill Foster of School Perceptions, “felt the chances for a successful referendum were within the margin of error, adding that, of course, he could not guarantee success.”
One should be able to assess a probability in a small town without the need for an outside poll. (This, it seems, just isn’t a good year for polls in any event.)
Many local elections went as expected: nearby Elkhorn’s school referendum questions won, Milton’s school larger referendum question lost (the capital one with a huge asking price), and in the 43rd Assembly District Vruwink won. Not everything was unexpected: residents would have could have predicted these outcomes easily. (Updated paragraph to reflect split in Milton between capital and operational referenda.)
Finally, there will be residents variously worried or celebrating over the national results today.
And yet – and yet – here we are.
One awakes and begins each day whether favorable or unfavorable, whether bright or dark. There’s much to be said for a long view. Those of clear convictions are likely to weather the unexpected well, knowing that there are no permanent victories and no permanent defeats.